I’ve been in a car wreck, now what happens?
So many people ask me this exact question after they have relied on and trusted the other person’s insurance company to help them through the process. I tell people all the time, the other person’s insurance only has ONE GOAL, to pay you as little as they can for your car, your property and for your medical expenses. They are not on your side, ever! Anything you tell them; they will use against you later to reduce your settlement. This is always true, whether or not you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, car accident, semi-truck accident, 18 wheeler accident, slip and fall or a dog bite.
My advice to anyone in a car wreck, or anyone that has been injured or hurt, contact and hire an experienced personal injury attorney. This will ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to, the maximum settlement you are entitled to and that you understand the process each step of the way. Any delay in reporting an injury to your insurance company or the other person’s insurance company may have a negative effect on your settlement amount and may cause you to lose out on insurance benefits.
Here’s a basic breakdown of what happens if you have been in a car wreck or vehicle wreck.
Whether the wreck was your fault or not, you will have two separate claims: 1) Property claim and 2) Personal Injury claim.
Each claim has their own rules, required proof and deadlines. Always report all wrecks to your own insurance company, no matter if the car wreck was your fault or not. By not doing this, you may lose out on getting paid for coverage you were unaware you had. Be honest about all the details of the injury. Seek medical attention immediately after being injured. Keep all medical billing and medical records as well as a log of dates, times, doctor’s contact information and details about each visit. Never settle your claim over the phone before you seek medical treatment and/or consulting with your own attorney. Insurance companies are now getting verbal settlements over the phone and immediately sending you a check. By agreeing to this and/or cashing the check, you are settling your claim and will have no future claims regarding your injury. You should also consult with and/or hire an experienced personal injury law attorney to help you with filing the correct claims before the deadline passes. Your own insurance company will not tell you what money you are entitled to or what benefits you are entitled to, you must file a claim and ask to have specific parts of your policy to be paid to you. Your own insurance company also wants to save money and not pay you all the money you are entitled to. Just another reason you should hire an experienced personal injury law attorney.
So, first there is the property damage claim. I mention this one first because it is usually the first one to get settled because the damage is already done and there is nothing pending to prevent this from being paid. This is usually your car or vehicle that was involved in the car wreck. Most people don’t know this, but you are allowed to pick the body shop that will repair your car. Don’t’ let the insurance company choose the repair shop or even suggest one. This decision to repair your car is all yours! The insurance company will send an adjuster to examine and take pictures of your car. The adjuster will also provide an estimate to the insurance company of what he/she thinks it will cost to repair your car. Keep in mind, the adjuster also works for the insurance company and is not your friend or on your side. Anything you say to the adjuster will also be used against you. Sometimes when this estimate is too low, the body shop will then provide proof to get additional money to repair your car. Most of the time, this part of your claim is pretty easy. But sometimes, the insurance company does not want to pay a fair amount for your car, especially if it is totaled. Here, you may want to hire an experienced attorney to assist you with getting all the money you deserve for your car.
The property damage claim and the personal injuries claims usually take place at the same time. For example, a person is getting surgery for personal injuries while their car is being repaired. Your settlement to get your car repaired has no effect on you seeking medical treatment for your injuries. The two claims are separate.
Second, are personal injuries claims. These are injuries you got when in the car wreck, slip and fall, dog bite, injury at work, or however you were injured. Here’s how this part of the claim works; you are injured, you get medical treatment, you finish all recommended medical treatment, you total all your bills, you submit an offer to settle. No money or settlement takes place until after ALL medical treatment is finished. If you have medical insurance, you can pay for treatment that way, or an experienced personal injury law attorney can arrange for you to seek medical treatment by sending a letter of protection.
Remember, you are free to choose the medical doctors you visit and you should always follow your doctor’s instructions on treatment. Do not sign any kind of release of medical records for the insurance company. These records, once all treatment is completed, can be provided at a later time when settlement talks are in place. At this point, you should seek all the treatment needed for your personal injuries and never stop early just because you’re tired or it is too much trouble. And you should never, ever stop early just because the personal injury law attorney you hired pressures you into stopping so he/she can settle the case. Your recovery and health are the most important thing once you have been injured in a car wreck. Once you have stopped treatment and turned in medical bills, the insurance company will not pay for any additional treatment.
Most people don’t know what to do or what happens if they have been in a car wreck or have been injured. That is why the insurance companies take advantage of people who have been injured. The only person who is on your side is an experienced personal injury law attorney that you hire.
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